The Social Network

The Social Network ★★★★★

The Social Network is something special. It'd be understandable to be weary of it's timely release, which could easily be written off as Hollywood trying to pander to the ever expanding users of the latest hip thing online. But thankfully, it's something much, much more than that. The Social Network is instead a modern classic, and a perfect example of modern cinema at it's absolute finest.

It's an easy enough to understand story. Mark Zuckerberg (as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, who somehow manages to make a viscously intelligent and socially blunt man sympathetic) is a Harvard student who doesn't fit in easily. He desperately wants to find the right finals club to join among his frat boy peers, and shortly after his girlfriend dumps him, he drunkenly constructs a website comparing the attractiveness of fellow female students. It's an accidental overnight hit, and soon enough a domino effect begins that leads to Mark beginning work on the ultimate cool social site, "TheFacebook", with shifts between it's construction and Mark's lawsuits with his former best friend and the twins who accuse him of stealing the idea for it from them. It's expertly paced and the story never loses momentum throughout, moving between the two timelines with such timing and ease that you're always interested rather than confused.
But the real magic is how it's more than a simple, loose biopic. It goes far beyond the seemingly dull on paper tale of some nerds making a website that got real popular, real fast. It uses it's factual groundwork as the basis for a far more relatable exploration of friendships, betrayals and everything in between, how these relationships are impacted for the worse by the events of the film rather than the other way around. It's certainly one of the most engaging 'true story' films ever constructed for the way it breaks free of it's cool famous tale and transforms into something far more everyday.

It also helps that the script is full of sharp dialogue from Andy Sorkin, producing his strongest screenplay to date for his ability to add some real depth to the characters, occasional laughs and some genuine moments of emotion beyond the cleverness of how the characters talk with one another. The performances that work with the material are consistently great, and there are several standouts that are all equally notable as one another. Armie Hammer delivers a very solid turn as the Winklevoss Twins, even more so when you remind yourself how the same actor plays two visually identical yet emotionally different twins genuinely well, with no one moment where he seems to repeat himself between them. You get reminded once more that Justin Timberlake can actually, seriously act when he plays the Napster founder, Sean Parker, finding the right balance between arrogance and cool. Andrew Garfield definitely gives the most memorable performance in the shape of the fairly tragic Eduardo Saverin, Mark's best friend who constantly tries to defend him and stand by him, even as he starts distancing himself from him. But again, Jesse is no slouch in the lead role, and manages the uneasy line between being unsympathetically cold at times and understandably bitter at others well.

Yet that's not even touching on the excellent execution of The Social Network in all other areas. The cinematography has a stark and sleek look to it that really suits it's modern, technological vibe. The soundtrack from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross throughout is fantastic, perfectly amping up the sense of tension in some scenes while simply serving to darken the atmosphere well at others. And, of course, there's the direction from David Fincher, who does a stupendous job once more. His choice of shots are always subtle and not particularly showy, yet at the same time he has no need to be. He lets the material speak for itself and never gets in the way, yet it's always with a tremendous amount of energy and simplicity that really draws you into the movie and keeps you engaged throughout. The way it's snappily edited helps that energy quite a bit as well, with no one shot lingering for too long.

There's so much more The Social Network gets right. It's one of those rare, truly great movies that only come along every once in a while. Everyone involved in this film deserves to be applauded for demonstrating how incredibly involving modern filmmaking can be when it knows what it's doing. And it's going to be a VERY long time for another drama of this style to top it. Bravo, Fincher. You've now made your masterpiece. 10/10.

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